Here we are again folks, another Friday evening contemplating an imminent Scunthorpe United away trip. Haven’t we all been here before? Oh wait, of course we have…
After last week’s very successful diary post previewing the Chelsea game (thanks for all the kind words to myself and others), we thought we’d pen another Diary piece; so thanks for joining us once more. Indeed, the Iron arguably have a better comparative record against Chelsea than Blackpool – although that’s not saying much!
Indeed, when this particular author saw the Iron controversially yet swiftly thrashed 5-2 there back in November 2005 (in a torrential monsoon with no away end roof), he promised himself he’d never go again. It’s okay to last more than 10 years right?
So despite encouraging performances in our most recent games against Wigan and Chelsea, the Iron fans making the trip to the Vegas-on-The-Fylde are doing so enveloped by that all too familiar cocktail of trepidation and acceptance of our imminent fate. After all – the Iron have had the pleasure of trekking to Bloomfield Road a grand total of 16 times, with 15 defeats!
Those lucky enough to have seen our 2-0 victory there back in April 2000 are inevitably smug in the knowledge that if we don’t repeat our feat tomorrow, given Blackpool’s long-standing on and off-pitch troubles, then we likely never will. Indeed, Blackpool won their 1st away game for nearly 2 years, against ourselves earlier on this season. I think our fans were the only ones not surprised by the defeat!
If we are to double the number of bogey-club away day hoodoos successively vanquished post-Christmas, tomorrow will require a sharply different performance from both Boxing Day’s unexpected victory at Doncaster and Sunday’s valiant defeat at Stamford Bridge. Yet we at Iron Bru are forever believers in the art of the possible and offering concrete suggestions, so here is our simple 4-point plan on what Scunthorpe United must do to return from Bloomfield Road with 3 points;
1) Leave the donkeys on the beach. This may sound obvious, but it really isn’t. Winning away from home is difficult enough generally – but it becomes all too easily impossible with poor concentration, individual errors, or slack discipline. Murray Wallace’s inclusion at Chelsea was a welcome boost on the middle front – but only the players can truly control the 1st and 3rd. Anyone remember Torpey & Crosby receiving their marching orders during our noted 6-0 and 5-2 thrashings there? We mustn’t give Deadman even half an opportunity to repeat.
2) Plan to conquer a crap, rock-hard pitch. With BBC Radio Humberside’s Mike White reporting that Blackpool fully expect the game to go ahead and have protective covers on accordingly, we have no excuses for being surprised by what awaits us. With overnight conditions expected to reach -1 and a nasty Irish breeze inevitable, tomorrow will be no cakewalk. Those Iron players who have recently suffered joint-related injuries will have to be extra careful; especially the likes of Mirfin, Dawson and Bishop.
3) Play direct, high-tempo football. Given the inevitable conditions as per 2), playing Williams in a ‘False Nine’ roaming central attacker as per Sunday, is an unrealistic luxury if we are to cause Blackpool’s relatively well-organised back-line sufficient problems. Neil McDonald is well-versed in the ‘Big Sam’ school of bullying nice but often ineffective sides like Scunthorpe and if we expect to sit deep whilst counter-attacking with neat tiki-taka movement – it’ll be a long day. If Henderson makes the bench, he could have a significant part to play.
4) Get at them with un-relenting pressure early. If we are to fully seize the inevitable opportunities bursting from The Seasiders’ poor form and confidence – then not repeating September’s mistakes and allowing them to settle is absolutely key. Our 1st half-hour on Sunday was relatively poor, patently intimidated by the swathe of world-class internationals in front of us; but thankfully that isn’t tomorrow’s problem. The atmosphere at Bloomfield Road very easily becomes an all too familiar cauldron of hate; by using that to our advantage early-doors we will visibly see the confidence, belief and motivation seep from their players’ faces.
Easier said than done right? Well, it certainly shouldn’t be. Blackpool’s on and off-pitch troubles are extremely well documented; and if English libel law wasn’t an equally well-documented mess – this author would be far stronger in his criticism of how our opponents are being run at the very highest level. However, it is what it is. And if we can’t take advantage of a poor side enveloped by long-term troubles, then we really are destined for mid-table mediocrity at best come May.